Life in a ‘Fish Bowl’ Is Just Fine with Bonita Varsity after 6-5 Win Over San Dimas

September 19, 2017
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Coach Villalpando had all his players’ attention when it mattered most.

SAN DIMAS, California, September 19, 2017 — If the Bonita varsity water polo team players thought they would have an easy time duplicating the 8-4 victory of the JVs who played right before them, they were in for a surprise.


Montenegro holds the fish bowl.

In fact, Bonita, playing at San Dimas on Tuesday afternoon, was trailing 3-1 at the half. Then the team reeled off five straight goals for a 6-3 lead that proved just enough of a margin for the Bonita boys to escape with a 6-5 win over their crosstown rivals.


The win didn’t earn Bonita a league title but it did earn them ownership of the Fish Bowl.


“Our team didn’t give up even when we were down 3-1,” said Bonita coach Art Villalpando. “The mix of our seniors and our sophomores and our lone freshman really stuck with it and allowed us to come back in the end.”


As for the start, both teams splashed their way to a scoreless tie in the first quarter. Both goalies, Joe Doonan from San Dimas and Ryan Lehotsky from Bonita, were playing out of their minds, putting up an impenetrable wall on defense.


Finally, San Dimas broke through with 5:18 left in the second quarter to give the Saints a 1-0 lead.


With less than two minutes left in the first half, it appeared Bonita was going to be shut out for the first half, but Ethan Johnson-May put that notion to rest with a goal at the 1:54 mark to tie the match at 1-1.


Then in an offensive flurry, San Dimas scored back-to-back goals at the 1:38 and 1:14 marks to to take a 3-1 lead into the intermission.


Lehotsky, No. 2, and Montenegro, No. 2, show both concern and determination.

In the third quarter, however, it was all Bonita. First, it was Mitchell Montenegro delivering a powerful stroke at the 5:59 mark. Next it was Kyle Pennington delivering a goal at the 3:29 mark to tie the match at 3-3. Meanwhile, Lehotsky was successfully blocking a barrage of shots sent his way.


In the decisive fourth quarter, San Dimas got the first break when Bonita’s  Mikey Henderson was sent to the penalty area, forcing Bonita to play a man down for 20 seconds. San Dimas, however, couldn’t capitalize on mismatch in the water.


Bonita finally broke the 3-3 tie on a goal by James Shultenburg at the 4:51 mark and pushed the lead to 5-3 on another Henderson goal with about four minutes to play. Pennington completed the scoring burst, with the aid of a deflection, at 3:23, giving Bonita a commanding 6-3 lead.


But if Bonita thought it was going to coast to an easy win, San Dimas had other thoughts. San Dimas would score two straight goals, to trail 6-5, and leave the contest very much in doubt with a little more than two minutes to play.

Both teams exchanged misfires before Bonita finally gained control and played keep-away over the last 34 seconds to preserve the win.


“It was a one-goal game last year, and because San Dimas is so well-coached you knew it was going to be another close one,” Villalpando said.


Mikey Henderson, No. 4, stays cool under pressure.

Bonita starts league at home on Thursday against Diamond Bar.


“It was good to finish the preseason with such a competitive, high-stress game,” Villalpando added. “I think playing under that kind of pressure will help us down the road.”


While Bonita’s win was a team effort, the coach singled out the exceptional play and leadership of Lehotsky and Montenegro as keys to the narrow victory.

Bonita brought its home-pool advantage to San Dimas.



Montenegro goes to work.

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